Eyewitness News

Long story short: I'm going on Vacation

Friday, March 22, 2013
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

When I was a teenager, March became a benchmark month for me, because March 2 was my Bar Mitzvah.

Later in life March took on other meanings. But for the past 10 years March has meant the launch of the Iraq war.

It was as I remember an amazing month. I spent several days in disaster preparedness training, leaving with a backpack stuffed with gas mask and enough paraphernalia to protect against all sorts of terrorist arsenals. Just me. Not my friends or family. Or my neighbors or even my co-workers. Just those of us who took the training.

Moments after I finished the training in California, it was off to Israel for a week, where I reported for how Israelis and Palestinians were preparing for an invasion of Iraq, just a scud-missile shot away. It was both an amazing and frightening experience, as civil defense systems everywhere were tested, and the world prepped for yet another big violent conflict.

There were many who felt it was a boneheaded idea to invade Iraq no matter how bad a guy Saddam Hussein was because there was no proof he had weapons of mass destruction and he had absolutely no ties to the Sept. 11 attacks. On the contrary, he disliked Osama bin Laden. But faulty intelligence was taken as gospel by the Bush Administration, which sold the U.N. on the idea, and we were off to war.

The exact date of the invasion was up in the air, and so I returned from the Middle East and went on spring break vacation with my children.

I was there for less than a day when the call came from our news director: Get back to New York, the invasion is in the next two days. I remember my kids being sad and so I quickly boarded a plane so I could be on the air to cover a war that seemed to wrong.

I thought about that cut-short vacation as I packed my bag today for an early-morning spring break trip with my children two of them now 10 years older, and my youngest just 3 years old. My last break from work was in August, so I'm looking forward to spending unadulterated time with my family.

All of which is prelude to what could have been just a one-liner, but, hey, that's not in my DNA: This column will be dark next week, and return on April 1.

That said, we have a busy news night for our 11 p.m. newscast: the wake for 16-year-old Kimani Gray, shot and killed by plainclothes New York cops after they say he pulled a gun on them, and a deadly shooting in Coney Island, with the shooter still on the loose.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20. And I'll see you a week from Monday.

BILL RITTER

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